Cotton candy, candy floss, fairy floss: whatever you call it, it’s the perfect dessert for our Odyssey menu. I thought of it immediately when I read about Odysseus’ clever use of sheep to escape the cyclops, Polyphemus. But homemade cotton candy can be intimidating when you don’t have a machine, especially when every recipe you come across requires you to cut the end off your balloon whisk. I knew I didn’t want to go chopping up perfectly good utensils, so I did some experimenting…and I’m proud to announce that no whisks were harmed in the making of this recipe! I recommend buying a special kind of whisk called a ball whisk with silicone ends (available here). You get the same results as a trimmed balloon whisk, and you can use it like you would a regular whisk in most other situations.
P.S. The recipe used here is inspired by one I found at Edible Experiments.
“Thus, then, did we wait in great fear of mind till morning came, but when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, the male sheep hurried out to feed, while the ewes remained bleating about the pens waiting to be milked…but their master in spite of all his pain felt the backs of all the sheep as they stood upright, without being sharp enough to find out that the men were underneath their bellies. ”
— The Odyssey
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (you can use whatever flavor you want, but vanilla is what contribute to the traditional cotton candy flavor)
- 4 drops food coloring (I used yellow, in keeping with the fleece theme)
- 1 ball whisk (available here)
- food thermometer
- pastry brush
- silicone mats (two or more is best)
- 10 kabob sticks (mine were 7 inches)
- 2 glasses (about 3 inches shorter than your kabob sticks)
Makes approx. 10 cotton candy pops
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Put it on medium heat and stir continuously until the sugar is dissolved (this should only take a few minutes).
- Stop stirring and clip your thermometer to the pan (making sure the rod isn’t touching the sides or bottom of the pan). Let the candy continue to heat undisturbed until it reaches 315°. This will probably take a little while (10 minutes or so). If sugar crystals begin to develop on the sides of the pan, dip your pastry brush in a cup of water and brush the crystals away.
- While you wait, set up your candy making station. Start by arranging your silicone mats on your counter. Put one in the center to be your “main mat,” where you’ll be aiming your whisk. Place the others anywhere you anticipate the most stray sugar will fall (this will help cut down on clean up later). Place your kabob sticks and glasses to one side where they’ll be quick and easy to reach.
- When the candy is ready, pour it into a heatproof container. Stir in your extract and food coloring. From this moment on, you’ll need to move quickly.
- Dip your ball whisk into the candy. Hold it with the tip pointing downward 1 foot above your center mat. Flick your wrist side to side as quickly as you can (like a fast brushing motion). This will create a line of thin candy strands across the center of your mat. Do this until no more strands come from the whisk. Repeat the dip and flick process 3-4 times, until you have a lot of strands gathered in the center of your mat. Place a kabob stick on the mat and roll as many strands as you can onto the top.
- When the strands gathered on the kabob are a little bigger than a tootsie pop, place it in one of the glasses and repeat Step 5 for your remaining 9 cotton candy pops. You don’t want to make them much bigger, or they’ll be too top heavy, causing them to fall off the stick or tip over the glass. You should be able to fit 5 per glass.
- Serve as a post-escape celebration snack after surviving the deadly Cyclops!